Don't you love when you run into someone who truly seems to be themselves? They've just grown into who they're meant to be and they embrace it?
I love when my couples give me this vibe. And why would I care about that?
Because creating a wedding brings up so many questions about family, friends, your style, what's important to you. The key to a having a good wedding is to know who you are and what you want for this celebration.
Ann and Kyle had been together for 11 years before tying the knot. And really, what's the rush?
I like to think it gave them all the more time to learn what and who is important to them so they could go through all the wedding options and pick what's a good fit.
With about 40 guests, they relaxed in their backyard on a beautiful September day. They held a sweet ceremony with a DIY backdrop then shared drinks and food with loved ones as the sun set.
Color was king at this wedding. The DIY backdrop was made from old curtain scraps and was as colorful as her on-of-a-kind dress. As she moved int eh dress, colors trailed behind her and everyone kept murmuring they adoration. Guests also noted how "Ann" the dress was, which made me smile.
Ann's brother sang them down the aisle, Ann had a flask in her garter and the toasts made everyone laugh with memories. Their 2 pups ran around with homemade flower necklaces and one even carried a go-pro during the ceremony!
What a great way to say goodbye to summer in Asheville.
Cheers to planning for you two.
If you like variety in your images, you may consider an outfit change during your portrait session. When clients ask me if it's feasible, I generally think it is!
If it's quick, go for it! You'd be surprised what we can fit into one hour, a quick change won't interrupt us.
Things to consider:
Don't stress yourself out about these little details, enjoy the session and trust your photographer to guide you!
Only wear the dress once? Nah.
Megan and I explored Swannanoa together 3 months after her wedding to see what kind of fun we could have with her beautiful bridal gown.
We played in the creek, roamed through the woods and watched the sun set over the field.
We're pretty sure the creek cleaned off all the dirt from dancing at her reception... win-win.
Running in a dress this heavy (7 or so layers) is not so easy but sometimes you gotta give in to your photographer's random requests.
Boy do we know how to stress ourselves out about the "happiest day of our life". We dream and daydream and Pinterest and save and imagine and then stress starts seeping in from the corners. Stress is finding cracks and holes to get through but it's totally up to you to overcome it and still enjoy the process.
A few musings to help you patch those holes, covers those cracks and power through stressful moments so it's not the new theme of your wedding.
My first musing is that this likely won't be the happiest day of your life. Ouch. The expectations alone can through all the wrenches in that ideal.
The happiest moments you'll look back on will (more likely) be when you go dress shopping with your best friend, drink too many bubbles and giggle over how ugly most dresses are. Your happiest moments will be the first time you held your brand new niece in your arms, when you hiked up that mountain in Alaska, when you stood up for yourself at work and it made a difference, when you snuggle your pet on the couch, sharing beers with your spouse because your other plans were rained out.
The little joys of life rally together and represent your happy times. Your wedding will be one of them but don't put so much pressure on your poor wedding to solve the everyman quest for "happiness". If you're on board with me so far then we're on the right track.
Next thought: how do you want your wedding to look and WHY? Write out key elements you want then follow up with why.
Reread your list. Time for cuts and compromises.
Example list of wedding details you're planning and WHY they're a part of the big day:
Signature cocktail - represents our first date
Outdoor venue - can't imagine it indoors
Big wedding party - my mom insists I have a flower girl
Dance party - my fiancee wants to partay
Pink and gold colors - I don't really care but my sister said this is trendy and cute
Cute umbrellas - it could rain, duh
Cute boots for under dress in case it does rain - I really don't want to move it indoors
You can already see there is room for cuts and compromises. I think it's healthy to consider both. No one wants to make mom mad but you can't let her plan the whole thing either. Cuts and compromises, think wholeheartedly about yours and make the call.
Next thought: money. Woooweee weddings are pricey. Even the little ones, even the DIY ones. Spend your money where you won't regret it. Do you care if every person leaves with a favor? Will you remember that years from now? Will they? We all have to make calls based on finances and one great way is to revisit why you're spending money on that particular thing/service/vendor.
To Do: Find a wedding photographer to take photos of your special day with a style that you admire... check!
Mmmmkk what else do we do? Let's look behind the scenes.
It's all about preparation. The photographer is preparing all the usual checklist needs for your wedding day, yes, but we're also preparing for you specifically! Based on your wedding location, how many guests you have, your formal photo list, we are preparing gear, ideas and posing just for you! All weddings and couples are not the same so I don't treat them that way, I tailor it your needs and vision.
No wedding day coordinator? It's likely your photographer will help guide the day in their absence. Not as a service that we provide but because the wedding group will be asking us when is the best time for this and that in order to produce the best photos. Many of my couples don't have a wedding coordinator so I casually advise based on lighting and my wedding experience (it doesn't hurt that I was a coordinator for 4 years).
Any detail that you told us via email, phone or in-person will be noted for the actual day. So you don't need to remember that you told us "...your Grandma is sick and needs to speed through her part of family photos..." 6 months ago, I've got it noted and will handle it so you don't have to!
You don't need to think about when sunset is for your best couples photos, it will be on our radar and we'll come get you. You won't need to come find us for cake cutting, we will remember and be waiting for it! Just enjoy your family & friends, breathe in the day!
When emotions are flying high, we are a calming factor. The photographer will be at your side most of the day: while you're putting your dress or suit on, while you're waiting to walk down the aisle, while you're walking out of the ceremony with your new spouse. We'll be there during these exciting and emotional moments and we'll be calm, relaxed and there for you. A good photographer will never add to the stress of a wedding day, we'll only help dissolve it.
We are catching moments that you may miss because you're busy! You're getting ready, you're hiding before the ceremony, you're talking to this group of friends (and not that other group of friends). So we roam around to catch the sweet moments your guests are experiencing so you can look back on them later.
We look forward to sharing the day with you and contributing to the success of a stress-free wedding. Cheers!
Max Patch is easily a favorite hike of mine in WNC. Every time I visit I have a new experience, new view and different weather. There's been fog so thick that you can't see any view and then clear skies like this evening with endless mountain vistas.
Kate and Brandon are from Ohio and ventured down to Asheville for a weekend getaway + their engagement photos. I was thrilled to meet up with them in this killer location as the sun set.
We slowly climbed up the (short yet steep) hike and took photo stops along the way. This is important if you're dressing up for your photos!
At the top, we carefully avoided the campers and other hikers for clean shots with just these two being happy as can be. The golden tones really set the mood of these photos and made up for lack of greenery this time of year.
With such a clean slate for a location, it's important to have poses prepared and to be able to direct your couple into comfortable positions.
So many things to think about when planning your wedding timeline... getting your hair done, dropping off decor for the reception, picking up your brother from the airport...
Now you have to factor in photography requests?!
Just to give you an idea on how important the time of day you'll be taking photos is, I'm going to share a little secret. Most photographers will share very few or none of their photographs taken during the middle of the day on their website, in their portfolio or on their Instagram. Sure, they've probably taken photos at noon and they probably have some good shots (I have and I do) but they'll rarely be as great as photos taken towards the ends of the day as the sun rises or sets.
Let's add in some other factors to demonstrate how midday sun can affect photos:
How does it affect things, really?
What to do?
We're there to create flattering, happy, romantic images of you and that's the only goal! So any tips we throw your way are in your best interest and ours. All photos in this blog post were taken during full, afternoon sun; there was minimal cloud coverage in the first 3 and none in the one below. I chose these photos to showcase the style you could expect from me if we're dealing with full sun images, I still got you ;)
Eloping is not what it once was. The definition does not fit into a neat little box.
On a personal note, we started brainstorming all kinds of fun for a wedding day but then logistics crept in. We thought through every possible option that sounded like “us”. Many ideas were great, some too pricey and some felt like settling. We wanted a stress-free day that was romantic, private and gave us the chance to travel. So, you guessed it, we eloped! And here's how our elopement played out: a quick trip to the courthouse for the legal marriage uniting us, hop on a plane for our (symbolic) ceremony in Paris with just us 2 + photographers + officiant and then about a month later we had a family dinner celebration.
It’s up to you if you want to a) escape suddenly for an adventurous elopement or b) plan for can’t-be-missed details. Let’s look at some pros and cons.
Surprise elopement – Pros!
Surprise elopement – Cons.
Planned elopement – Pros!
Planned elopement – Cons.
Sort through these and add to each list for scenarios specific to your situation. If you're looking back on your wedding day 10 years from now, what do you want to see? to feel?
All the best on a happy planning (or lack of planning) wedding adventure!
I remember getting engaged a few (4 or 5?) years ago and was immediately ready to put all my Pinterest saves to work.
The planning part didn't intimidate me, I embraced it. I'm pretty organized and like putting the puzzle pieces together. I was a wedding planner in college so I had some insider insight as well.
Then things got sticky. Slowly the ideal wedding (still a small one) got further from reach. A bit of family flavor and geographical obstacles showed up and contributed to us ultimately eloping (how to deal with all that will fit into another blog post). But those weren't the only reasons.
The biggest factor in us eloping (by FAR)? How we wanted to spend our money for our wedding day and any day after it.
We were on our own to cover all the expenses of this wedding, no contributors. And I know we aren't the only ones that go through this! It's traditional for the bride's family to pay for the wedding but tradition isn't enough to catch up with reality ;) We had money to use on the wedding but we are pretty strict with finances and debt accumulation.
We could either blow a large amount of savings or rack up credit card debt for a simple wedding. We would also be compromising on the majority of decisions for family accommodation.
It was our conclusion to avoid drama and spend our money happily by eloping. We made a honeymoon and a simple ceremony out of it. That was the plan for us. A low-key family dinner followed about a month later at my aunt and uncle's home.
So how does my story fit into this?
I suppose my point is that I get it! Our wedding day choices are sculpted by our daily life, our family and our financial situation. Plus any social pressures we give in to (we all do it, give yourself a break!).
My simple recipe for planning a wedding (if you relate to my story in any way):
Enjoy being engaged. Soak it up. Beam with excitement. Overdose on Pinterest (for a limited time).
Sort through your emotions about what you want for the big day. Always ask why when you're on the fence.
Get an outline of must-haves, really wants and nopes for your wedding. Include your fiancee in this process.
Set a budget and know there could be push and pull here but at least you have some numbers in your head and don't go into consultations blindly.
You'll soon realize that you can create your own stationary affordably but you'll splurge on floral (or vice versa, this is just an example).
Go ahead and book your must haves. Find your dream vendors that you can't go without and BOOK 'EM.
Then move on to your really wants. What "bonuses" can you add in for charm and character?
And your nopes will still pop up in conversation as you chat with people. Keeping checking in with yourself and your fiancee to confirm that they're still nopes ;) For example, you may decide to forgo boutonnieres but your mom thinks they're necessary... do what feels right and politely say "no thanks"!
This is my simple recipe for happy planning for the modern person who's engaged.
They're excited to have this romantic moment but they're going to do it with their head on straight. They're going to splurge on some things and save on others. They're going to set themselves up for a day that they'll never forget. Not a stressful day with a big bill.
My favorite resources for planning:
A Practical Wedding
WeddingHappy (free app)
And if you're curious, my own planning in review:
Find a photographer that I can trust and I will splurge on this (no surprise!). I was lucky to land a duo that also offered a short film, making the elopement all the more easy to look back on.
I tried on several dresses from Zappos (surprising source right?!) and Nordstrom, both offer free shipping + free returns. I landed a Nicole Miller dress for under $1k from Zappos. Then I splurged a bit on a handmade veil. I got shoes at a DSW or something similar, they were affordable but just as beautiful as I'd hoped for.
I did my own hair and makeup which was fine but not sure I'd recommend it. We also skipped flowers given the set up and that we were traveling.
My husband picked out his ideal dinner spot for after the all the hoopla.
I think that covers it, best of luck planning and may it be easy-going and simple. And if you're worried about handling it all, consider a day-of coordinator. They work wonders and truly let you enjoy your day.
In terms of photography, that is.
Of course your photographer will capture a bit of everything, that's why we're there! So this isn't about picking and choosing what you want photographed, this is about preparation to get the MOST out of everything that WILL be photographed.
Wedding photographers are flexible and quick on their feet because all weddings throw curve balls. That being said, how can we work together to create the best images for you so your collection is gorgeous beginning to end? 4 tips below!
Getting ready & anticipation images
These are the beautiful candid shots of a bride putting her veil on or adding the last touch of lipstick. These are the touching photos of the groom opening the gift from his bride-to-be or tying his tie.
To make the most of these, clear out the space! Find yourself a room to get ready in that won't have distracting neon green walls. Don't get me wrong, all the items you need to prepare that day will add to the story and are totally fine. A pile of dirty clothes in the corner? Not so much.
And, as always, consider the lighting. Find a space with a great window or 2. Photographers aren't afraid to escort you outdoors to get the perfect shot if necessary.
Formal family portraits
In all honesty, formal family portraits can sometimes be chaotic. Your family is there to celebrate, relax and throw back a few so the family portraits may not be their focus.
You'll find yourself needing 3 things to power through family formals: a list of all the combinations of people, a trusted friend who can put a face to a name (to gather everyone on the list when its their turn) and, lastly, time. Depending on how long your list is, 30 min to an hour should work just fine!
It seems like a given that you and your new spouse will take plenty of couples portraits after you get hitched. Something often forgotten though? Actually scheduling in time to take these photos, especially if you want to adventure out a bit for scenery! Time will fly on our wedding day, be sure to have a minimum of 30 minutes scheduled in with your photographer to capture moments of just you 2 right after family formals.
Other options to consider? Build in time before the ceremony with a romantic first-look or schedule a day after session where you can hit any location you choose!
Did you splurge on special wedding shoes? Are you carrying an heirloom from your grandmother with you? Did you spend hours and hours creating the perfect invitation suite?
Tell your photographer in advance! As the day rushes by, it's easy to forget to mention these things. If your photographer has a list of must-have shots ahead of time, you'll be all set. Have them easily accessible too!
Ok, that's it! Your day is going to be beautiful, prepare a bit in advance so you can simply enjoy it all when it comes.
A big thank you to my lovely couples of this fall wedding season.
You were easy to work with, you were present in the moment during your big day, your family & friends were delightful.
Cheers to you!
I look forward to photographing many more small weddings & elopements in WNC next year!
For inquiries, email me at email@example.com.
Click on over here for more wedding images. Small weddings, big love.
Luke proposed to Megan in May of this year and I was so happy to work with them on their engagement photos in early June.
Megan was looking for an outdoor spot with open fields and our beautiful mountains in the background for the photos. I immediately got to work researching options and recalling recommendations that my local friends have used.
Alex Fisher of Lucky Penny Creative (badass event planner in Greenville/Asheville) gave me a quick description of Lady Luck Farms and it was clearly the best spot for this couple. Megan agreed and we were both so excited to see it all come together.
Although I love working with the details and styling of food and products in my work, it was such a joy to bring that into portraits as well. We incorporated every detail of the farm and created natural posing based on the setting.
As the sun set we captured new lighting almost every 15 minutes which added to the dreaminess of the collection of images.
I love throwing on my boots and being ready for anything in a shoot and this was no different. We waded through tall grasses, overflowing greenhouses and I even asked these two to lay on the ground around the blooms.
I look forward to meeting and working with more couples who want to get outside and play around for their engagement or wedding photos.
I'm all about keeping it simple. Natural. Candid. How about you?
When it comes to your wedding day, take a moment to reflect on how you want to feel that day.
If you could choose one word to describe an emotion for your wedding day, what would it be?
Be sure to strip every goal away except for that one feeling. That is your new goal.
Pin this word on your Pinterest page, on your bulletin board, in your day planner.
Tell your spouse, your friends and family.
Making this new goal front and center can help guide all of decisions you'll need to make for the wedding day! Not the word guilt, obligation or expectation. Only your joyful word will matter.
Best of luck in your planning, keep it simple. Loose the excess. Focus your planning.
Adventurous. Romantic. Practical.
Just a few words that describe my kinda bride.
When planning a small wedding or elopement (because some planning will happen), I've gathered a few favorite online resources to help you.
You may get some inspiration, advice or just plain ol clarity.
Eloping to a popular outdoor spot can have its pros and cons. For pros, its popular for a reason so you must be catching a killer view + the ease of access (aka Craggy Pinnacle). For cons, you may be giving up a private ceremony, other visitors may become your audience or be a distraction.
There are two ways to combat this and still have the outdoor elopement you've imagined.
1. Stick with the same intended "popular" spot and follow these tips:
2. Find an off-the-beaten-path spot and follow these tips:
No matter which way you choose, don't let bystanders ruin any moment of your ceremony. Do the best planning you can in advance then let the day unfold and roll with it.
Let’s start small, real small.
Just the two of you escaping to the mountains? Keeping your ceremony private? Then you’re all set and you’re welcome to go about the rest of your day.
Perhaps you’re in love with the idea of running away. The romance of it all.
Eloping can be incredibly romantic, easygoing, thrilling. It is what you make of it. The best part is that it really is what you make of it. In other words, you can invite others to join your elopement.
Often a trusted long-time friend tags along.
Perhaps just your parents.
Perhaps just immediate family.
It’s all up to you. Elopement or intimate wedding, call it what you want!
So you want to get married in the mountains.
Driving from Asheville into the mountains, even just 30 minutes up, you will see the weather change. The temperatures drop and the wind picks up.
How do you plan around this?
One solution is simply surrendering. Getting married outside with nature surrounding you can be a risk. A risk worth taking. The views around here are unmatched, the cool air in mid-summer is gracious and the beauty of the greenery enveloping you is magical.
A few sprinkles never hurt anyone and wind can add to the magic.
Know that your wedding day is an ADVENTURE!
It’s about loosing sleep the night before because you’re so excited. It’s about jumping in the car before the sun rises to beat traffic on the Parkway. This is the magic of eloping, only worrying about the two of you.
I truly believe what I’m saying here, BUT(!) there are weather conditions my little camera won’t thrive in, so I get it.
I get it so much that I build in a back-up plan with you. If you’re planning your ceremony for 8am sunrise overlooking Mt. Craig, we will do everything we can to make this happen. Waterproof camera cases, sexy ponchos, adorable umbrellas, rain boots, you name it.
BUT(!) if the rain is fierce, the snow is deep or the lightning is striking, I’m likely to suggest our back-up plan. The back-up plan could simply be for later that day. It could be for the next day. It could be for the following week. No matter, we’ll find a solid plan because I understand how important the setting is. I get it.
There is a rumor floating around that only traditional ceremonies can be planned.
The secret is out though, elopements can be just as well thought out… in advance!
This day is yours. Yours to make big or small, casual or fancy, simple or elaborate. So, do it!
A few ideas:
Plan for any of your favorite traditions. Cut your own cake! Wear a veil! Hold a bouquet!
Include your favorite details you've always wanted. Something sentimental you'd like to include and get memorable photos of? Bring it along.
On the opposite end, cut traditions and just create your perfect day. Nix the gown! Wear hiking boots!
Elopements are generally just you 2. A small wedding maybe be around 20 guests. Perhaps somewhere in between would suit you best? An intimate affair for you 2 + 4 of your closest loved ones.
Or stick with a private elopement then plan a reception with family & friends for another date. A sweet way to celebrate without the cost or pressure.
Location. Picking the perfect setting really adds so much to an elopement. Climb that mountain.
When this question pops up, people generally think of the best season to visit.
Autumn is easily the busiest time of year for leaf-lookers. The Blue Ridge Parkway will be crowded.
Spring is cool and, often, wet. The greenery starts to pop like you’ve never seen around mid-May.
The higher you go on your adventure during the winter, the more snow you may see. And ice.
And summer here can be hot and humid but generally the heat waves tend to break.
That being said, I’m here to chat about when during the day you’d like to elope!
The early morning dusk tends to be my favorite. If you’re looking for a cool, grayish blue day, then you’ll agree that mornings rock. You also tend to beat crowds.
Midday is usually the harshest. The crowds are out and so is the sun. The sun reaching out overheard can produce a rough day for a photographer. But, we make it work.
The evenings just before sunset are a crowd favorite. It is very romantic and the warm golden glow sets the scene.
What kind of mood are you hoping to set during your elopement?